Exposition - Explanatory Notes and Quaint Sayings
Hints to the Village Preacher
TITLE. To the Chief Musician--a Psalm of David. The
dedication to the chief musician proves that this song of mingled measures and
alternate strains of grief and woe was intended for public singing, and thus a
deathblow is given to the notion that nothing but praise should be sung. Perhaps
the Psalms, thus marked, might have been set aside as too mournful for temple
worship, if special care had not been taken by the Holy Spirit to indicate them
as being designed for the public edification of the Lord's people. May there not
also be in Psalms thus designated a peculiar distinct reference to the Lord
Jesus? He certainly manifests himself very clearly in the twenty-second, which
bears this title; and in the one before us we plainly hear his dying voice in
the fifth verse. Jesus is chief everywhere, and in all the holy songs of his
saints he is the chief musician. The surmises that Jeremiah penned this Psalm
need no other answer than the fact that it is "a Psalm of David."
SUBJECT. The psalmist in dire affliction appeals to his God
for help with much confidence and holy importunity, and ere long finds his mind
so strengthened that he magnifies the Lord for his great goodness. Some have
thought that the occasion in his troubled life which led to this Psalm, was the
treachery of the men of Keilah, and we have felt much inclined to this
conjecture; but after reflection it seems to us that its very mournful tone, and
its allusion to his iniquity demand a later date, and it may be more
satisfactory to illustrate it by the period when Absalom had rebelled, and his
courtiers were fled from him, while lying lips spread a thousand malicious
rumours against him. It is perhaps quite as well that we have no settled season
mentioned, or we might have been so busy in applying it to David's case as to
forget its suitability to our own.
DIVISION. There are no great lines of demarcation;
throughout the strain undulates, falling into valleys of mourning, and rising
with hills of confidence. However, we may for convenience arrange it thus: David
testifying his confidence in God pleads for help, Ps 31:1-6; expresses gratitude
for mercies received, Ps 31:7-8; particularly describes his case, Ps 31:9-13;
vehemently pleads for deliverance, Ps 31:14-18; confidently and thankfully
expects a blessing, Ps 31:19-22; and closes by showing the bearing of his case
upon all the people of God.
Verse 1. In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. Nowhere else do
I fly for shelter, let the tempest howl as it may. The psalmist has one refuge,
and that the best one. He casts out the great sheet anchor of his faith in the
time of storm. Let other things be doubtful, yet the fact that he relies on
Jehovah, David lays down most positively; and he begins with it, lest by stress
of trial he should afterwards forget it. This avowal of faith is the fulcrum by
means of which he labours to uplift and remove his trouble; he dwells upon it as
a comfort to himself and a plea with God. No mention is made of merit, but faith
relies upon divine favour and faithfulness, and upon that alone. Let me never
be ashamed. How can the Lord permit the man to be ultimately put to shame
who depends alone upon him? This would not be dealing like a God of truth and
grace. It would bring dishonour upon God himself if faith were not in the end
rewarded. It will be an ill day indeed for religion when trust in God brings no
consolation and no assistance. Deliver me in thy righteousness. Thou are
not unjust to desert a trustful soul, or to break thy promises; thou wilt
vindicate the righteousness of thy mysterious providence, and give me joyful
deliverance. Faith dares to look even to the sword of justice for protection:
while God is righteous, faith will not be left to be proved futile and
fanatical. How sweetly the declaration of faith in this first verse sounds, if
we read it at the foot of the cross, beholding the promise of the Father as yea
and amen through the Son; viewing God with faith's eye as he stands revealed in
Verse 2. Bow down thine ear to me. Condescend to my low
estate; listen to me attentively as one who would hear every word. Heaven with
its transcendent glories of harmony might well engross the divine ear, but yet
the Lord has an hourly regard to the weakest moanings of his poorest people.
Deliver me speedily. We must not set times or seasons, yet in submission
we may ask for swift as well as sure mercy. God's mercies are often enhanced in
value by the timely haste which he uses in their bestowal; if they came late
they might be too late--but he rides upon a cherub, and flies upon the wings of
the wind when he intends the good of his beloved. Be thou my strong
rock. Be my Engedi, my Adullam; my immutable, immovable, impregnable,
sublime, resort. For an house of defence to save me, wherein I may
dwell in safety, not merely running to thee for temporary shelter, but
abiding in thee for eternal salvation. How very simply does the good man pray,
and yet with what weight of meaning! he uses no ornamental flourishes, he is too
deeply in earnest to be otherwise than plain: it were well if all who engage in
public prayer would observe the same rule.
Verse 3. For thou art my rock and my fortress. Here the
tried soul avows yet again its full confidence in God. Faith's repetitions are
not vain. The avowal of our reliance upon God in times of adversity is a
principle method of glorifying him. Active service is good, but the passive
confidence of faith is not one jot less esteemed in the sight of God. The words
before us appear to embrace and fasten upon the Lord with a fiducial grip which
is not to be relaxed. The two personal pronouns, like sure nails, lay hold upon
the faithfulness of the Lord. O for grace to have our heart fixed in firm
unstaggering belief in God! The figure of a rock and a fortress may be
illustrated to us in these times by the vast fortress of Gibraltar, often
besieged by our enemies, but never wrested from us: ancient strongholds, though
far from impregnable by our modes of warfare, were equally important in those
remoter ages--when in the mountain fastnesses, feeble bands felt themselves to be
secure. Note the singular fact that David asked the Lord to be his rock Ps 31:2
because he was his rock; and learn from it that we may pray to enjoy in
experience what we grasp by faith. Faith is the foundation of prayer.
Therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. The psalmist
argues like a logician with his fors and therefores. Since I do sincerely trust
thee, saith he, O my God, be my director. To lead and to guide are two things
very like each other, but patient thought will detect different shades of
meaning, especially as the last may mean provide for me. The double word
indicates an urgent need--we require double direction, for we are fools, and the
way is rough. Lead me as a soldier, guide me as a traveller! lead me as a babe,
guide me as a man; lead me when thou art with me, but guide me even if thou be
absent; lead me by thy hand, guide me by thy word. The argument used is one
which is fetched from the armoury of free grace: not for my own sake, but for
thy name's sake guide me. Our appeal is not to any fancied virtue in our own
names, but to the glorious goodness and graciousness which shines resplendent in
the character of Israel's God. It is not possible that the Lord should suffer
his own honour to be tarnished, but this would certainly be the case if those
who trusted him should perish. This was Moses' plea, "What wilt thou do unto thy
Verse 4. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily
for me. The enemies of David were cunning as well as mighty; if they
could not conquer him by power, they would capture him by craft. Our own
spiritual foes are of the same order--they are of the serpent's brood, and seek
to ensnare us by their guile. The prayer before us supposes the possibility of
the believer being caught like a bird; and, indeed, we are so foolish that this
often happens. So deftly does the fowler do his work that simple ones are soon
surrounded by it. The text asks that even out of the meshes of the net the
captive one may be delivered; and this is a proper petition, and one which can
be granted; from between the jaws of the lion and out of the belly of hell can
eternal love rescue the saint. It may need a sharp pull to save a soul
from the net of temptation, and a mighty pull to extricate a man from the snares
of malicious cunning, but the Lord is equal to every emergency, and the most
skilfully placed nets of the hunter shall never be able to hold his chosen ones.
Woe unto those who are so clever at net laying: they who tempt others shall be
destroyed themselves. Villains who lay traps in secret shall be punished in
public. For thou art my strength. What an inexpressible sweetness is to
be found in these few words! How joyfully may we enter upon labours, and how
cheerfully may we endure sufferings when we can lay hold upon celestial power.
Divine power will rend asunder all the toils of the foe, confound their politics
and frustrate their knavish tricks; he is a happy man who has such matchless
might engaged upon his side. Our own strength would be of little service when
embarrassed in the nets of base cunning, but the Lord's strength is ever
available; we have but to invoke it, and we shall find it near at hand. If by
faith we are depending alone upon the strength of the strong God of Israel, we
may use our holy reliance as a plea in supplication.
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit. These living
words of David were our Lord's dying words, and have been frequently used by
holy men in their hour of departure. Be assured that they are good, choice,
wise, and solemn words; we may use them now and in the last tremendous hour.
Observe, the object of the good man's solicitude in life and death is not his
body or his estate, but his spirit; this is his jewel, his secret treasure; if
this be safe, all is well. See what he does with his pearl! He commits it to the
hand of his God; it came from him, it is his own, he has aforetime sustained it,
he is able to keep it, and it is most fit that he should receive it. All things
are safe in Jehovah's hands; what we entrust to the Lord will be secure, both
now and in that day of days towards which we are hastening. Without reservation
the good man yields himself to his heavenly Father's hand; it is enough for him
to be there; it is peaceful living and glorious dying to repose in the care of
heaven. At all times we should commit and continue to commit our all to Jesus'
sacred care, then, though life may hang on a thread, and adversities may
multiply as the sands of the sea, our soul shall dwell at ease, and delight
itself in quiet resting places. Thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of
truth. Redemption is a solid base for confidence. David had not known
Calvary as we have done, but temporal redemption cheered him; and shall not
eternal redemption yet more sweetly console us? Past deliverances are strong
pleas for present assistance. What the Lord has done he will do again, for he
changes not. He is a God of veracity, faithful to his promises, and gracious to
his saints; he will not turn away from his people.
Verse 6. I have hated them that regard lying vanities. Those
who will not lean upon the true arm of strength, are sure to make to themselves
vain confidences. Man must have a god, and if he will not adore the only living
and true God, he makes a fool of himself, and pays superstitious regard to a
lie, and waits with anxious hope upon a base delusion. Those who did this were
none of David's friends; he had a constant dislike to them: the verb includes
the present as well as the past tense. He hated them for hating God; he would
not endure the presence of idolaters; his heart was set against them for their
stupidity and wickedness. He had no patience with their superstitious
observances, and calls their idols vanities of emptiness, nothings of nonentity.
Small courtesy is more than Romanists and Puseyists deserve for their fooleries.
Men who make gods of their riches, their persons, their wits, or anything else,
are to be shunned by those whose faith rests upon God in Christ Jesus; and so
far from being envied, they are to be pitied as depending upon utter vanities.
But I trust in the Lord. This might be very unfashionable, but the
psalmist dared to be singular. Bad example should not make us less decided for
the truth, but the rather in the midst of general defection we should grow the
more bold. This adherence to his trust in Jehovah is the great plea employed all
along: the troubled one flies into the arms of his God, and ventures everything
upon the divine faithfulness.
Verse 7. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy. For mercy
past he is grateful, and for mercy future, which he believingly anticipates, he
is joyful. In our most importunate intercessions, we must find breathing time to
bless the Lord: praise is never a hindrance to prayer, but rather a lively
refreshment therein. It is delightful at intervals to hear the notes of the high
sounding cymbals when the dolorous sackbut rules the hour. Those two words,
glad and rejoice, are an instructive reduplication, we need not
stint ourselves in our holy triumph; this wine we may drink in bowls without
fear of excess. For thou hast considered my trouble. Thou hast seen it,
weighed it, directed it, fixed a bound to it, and in all ways made it a matter
of tender consideration. A man's consideration means the full exercise of his
mind; what must God's consideration be? Thou hast known my soul in
adversities. God owns his saints when others are ashamed to acknowledge
them; he never refuses to know his friends. He thinks not the worse of them for
their rags and tatters. He does not misjudge them and cast them off when their
faces are lean with sickness, or their hearts heavy with despondency. Moreover,
the Lord Jesus knows us in our pangs in a peculiar sense, by having a deep
sympathy towards us in them all; when no others can enter into our griefs, from
want of understanding them experimentally, Jesus dives into the lowest depths
with us, comprehending the direst of our woes, because he has felt the same.
Jesus is a physician who knows every case; nothing is new to him. When we are so
bewildered as not to know our own state, he knows us altogether. He has known us
and will know us: O for grace to know more of him! "Man, know thyself, "is a
good philosophic precept, but "Man, thou art known of God, "is a superlative
consolation. Adversities in the plural-- "Many are the afflictions of the
Verse 8. And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy.
To be shut up in one's hand is to be delivered over absolutely to his power;
now, the believer is not in the hand of death or the devil, much less is he in
the power of man. The enemy may get a temporary advantage over us, but we are
like men in prison with the door open; God will not let us be shut up, he always
provides a way of escape. Thou hast set my feet in a large room.
Blessed be God for liberty: civil liberty is valuable, religious liberty is
precious, spiritual liberty is priceless. In all troubles we may praise God if
these are left. Many saints have had their greatest enlargements of soul when
their affairs have been in the greatest straits. Their souls have been in a
large room when their bodies have been lying in Bonner's coal hole, or in some
other narrow dungeon. Grace has been equal to every emergency; and more than
this, it has made the emergency an opportunity for displaying itself.
Verse 9. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble.
Now, the man of God comes to a particular and minute description of his
sorrowful case. He unbosoms his heart, lays bare his wounds, and expresses his
inward desolation. This first sentence pithily comprehends all that follows, it
is the text for his lamenting discourse. Misery moves mercy--no more reasoning is
needed. "Have mercy" is the prayer; the argument is as prevalent as it is plain
and personal, "I am in trouble." Mine eye is consumed with grief. Dim and
sunken eyes are plain indicators of failing health. Tears draw their salt from
our strength, and floods of them are very apt to consume the source from which
they spring. God would have us tell him the symptoms of our disease, not for his
information, but to show our sense of need. Yea, my soul and my belly (or
body). Soul and body are so intimately united, that one cannot decline
without the other feeling it. We, in these days, are not strangers to the double
sinking which David describes; we have been faint with physical suffering, and
distracted with mental distress: when two such seas meet, it is well for us that
the Pilot at the helm is at home in the midst of the water floods, and makes
storms to become the triumph of his art.
Verse 10. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with
sighing. It had become his daily occupation to mourn; he spent all his
days in the dungeon of distress. The sap and essence of his existence was being
consumed, as a candle is wasted while it burns. His adversities were shortening
his days, and digging for him an early grave. Grief is a sad market to spend all
our wealth of life in, but a far more profitable trade may be driven there than
in Vanity Fair; it is better to go to the house of mourning than the house of
feasting. Black is good wear. The salt of tears is a healthy medicine. Better
spend our years in sighing than in sinning. The two members of the sentence
before us convey the same idea; but there are no idle words in Scripture, the
reduplication is the fitting expression of fervency and importunity. My
strength faileth because of mine iniquity. David sees to the bottom
of his sorrow, and detects sin lurking there. It is profitable trouble which
leads us to trouble ourselves about our iniquity. Was this the psalmist's
foulest crime which now gnawed at his heart, and devoured his strength? Very
probably it was so. Sinful morsels, though sweet in the mouth, turn out to be
poison in the bowels: if we wantonly give a portion of our strength to sin, it
will by and by take the remainder from us. We lose both physical, mental, moral,
and spiritual vigour by iniquity. And my bones are consumed. Weakness
penetrated the innermost parts of his system, the firmest parts of his frame
felt the general decrepitude. A man is in a piteous plight when he comes to
Verse 11. I was a reproach among all mine enemies. They were
pleased to have something to throw at me; my mournful estate was music to them,
because they maliciously interpreted it to be a judgment from heaven upon me.
Reproach is little thought of by those who are not called to endure it, but he
who passes under its lash knows how deep it wounds. The best of men may have the
bitterest foes, and be subject to the most cruel taunts. But especially among
my neighbours. Those who are nearest can stab the sharpest. We feel
most the slights of those who should have shown us sympathy. Perhaps David's
friends feared to be identified with his declining fortunes, and therefore
turned against him in order to win the mercy if not the favour of his opponents.
Self interest rules the most of men: ties the most sacred are soon snapped by
its influence, and actions of the utmost meanness are perpetrated without
scruple. And a fear to mine acquaintance. The more intimate
before, the more distant did they become. Our Lord was denied by Peter, betrayed
by Judas, and forsaken by all in the hour of his utmost need. All the herd turn
against a wounded deer. The milk of human kindness curdles when a despised
believer is the victim of slanderous accusations. They that did see me
without fled from me. Afraid to be seen in the company of a man so
thoroughly despised, those who once courted his society hastened from him as
though he had been infected with the plague. How villainous a thing is slander
which can thus make an eminent saint, once the admiration of his people, to
become the general butt, the universal aversion of mankind! To what extremities
of dishonour may innocence be reduced!
Verse 12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. All
David's youthful prowess was now gone from remembrance; he had been the saviour
of his country, but his services were buried in oblivion. Men soon forget the
deepest obligations; popularity is evanescent to the last degree: he who is in
every one's mouth today may be forgotten by all tomorrow. A man had better be
dead than be smothered in slander. Of the dead we say nothing but good, but in
the psalmist's case they said nothing but evil. We must not look for the reward
of philanthropy this side of heaven, for men pay their best servants but sorry
wages, and turn them out of doors when no more is to be got out of them. I am
like a broken vessel, a thing useless, done for, worthless, cast aside,
forgotten. Sad condition for a king! Let us see herein the portrait of the King
of kings in his humiliation, when he made himself of no reputation, and took
upon him the form of a servant.
Verse 13. For I have heard the slander of many. One
slanderous viper is death to all comfort--what must be the venom of a whole
brood? What the ear does not hear the heart does not rue; but in David's case
the accusing voices were loud enough to break in upon his quiet--foul mouths had
grown so bold, that they poured forth their falsehoods in the presence of their
victim. Shimei was but one of a class, and his cry of "Go up, thou bloody man,
"was but the common speech of thousands of the sons of Belial. All Beelzebub's
pack of hounds may be in full cry against a man, and yet he may be the Lord's
anointed. Fear was on every side. He was encircled with fearful
suggestions, threatenings, remembrances, and forebodings; no quarter was clear
from incessant attack. While they took counsel together against me,
they devised to take away my life. The ungodly act in concert in their
onslaughts upon the excellent of the earth: it is to be wondered at that sinners
should often be better agreed than saints, and generally set about their wicked
work with much more care and foresight than the righteous exhibit in holy
enterprises. Observe the cruelty of a good man's foes! they will be content with
nothing less than his blood--for this they plot and scheme. Better fall into the
power of a lion than under the will of malicious persecutors, for the beast may
spare its prey if it be fed to the full, but malice is unrelenting and cruel as
a wolf. Of all fiends the most cruel is envy. How sorely was the psalmist
bestead when the poisoned arrows of a thousand bows were all aimed at his life!
Yet in all this his faith did not fail him, nor did his God forsake him. Here is
encouragement for us.
Verses 14-18. In this section of the Psalm he renews his
prayers, urging the same pleas as at first: earnest wrestlers attempt over and
over again the same means of gaining their point.
Verse 14. But I trusted in thee, O Lord. Notwithstanding all
afflicting circumstances, David's faith maintained its hold, and was not turned
aside from its object. What a blessed saving clause is this! So long as our
faith, which is our shield, is safe, the battle may go hard, but its ultimate
result is no matter of question; if that could be torn from us, we should be as
surely slain as were Saul and Jonathan upon the high places of the field. I
said, Thou art my God. He proclaimed aloud his determined allegiance
to Jehovah. He was no fair weather believer, he could hold to his faith in a
sharp frost, and wrap it about him as a garment fitted to keep out all the ills
of time. He who can say what David did need not envy Cicero his eloquence: "Thou
art my God, "has more sweetness in it than any other utterance which human
speech can frame. Note that this adhesive faith is here mentioned as an argument
with God to honour his own promise by sending a speedy deliverance.
Verse 15. My times are in thy hand. The sovereign arbiter of
destiny holds in his own power all the issues of our life; we are not waifs and
strays upon the ocean of fate, but are steered by infinite wisdom towards our
desired haven. Providence is a soft pillow for anxious heads, an anodyne for
care, a grave for despair. Deliver me from the hand of mine enemies,
and from them that persecute me. It is lawful to desire escape from
persecution if it be the Lord's will; and when this may not be granted us in the
form which we desire, sustaining grace will give us deliverance in another form,
by enabling us to laugh to scorn all the fury of the foe.
Verse 16. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant. Give me
the sunshine of heaven in my soul, and I will defy the tempests of earth. Permit
me to enjoy a sense of thy favour, O Lord, and a consciousness that thou art
pleased with my manner of life, and all men may frown and slander as they will.
It is always enough for a servant if he pleases his master; others may be
dissatisfied, but he is not their servant, they do not pay him his wages, and
their opinions have no weight with him. Save me for thy mercies' sake.
The good man knows no plea but mercy; whoever might urge legal pleas David never
dreamed of it.
Verse 17. Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called
upon thee. Put not my prayers to the blush! Do not fill profane
mouths with jeers at my confidence in my God. Let the wicked be ashamed,
and let them be silent in the grave. Cause them to their amazement to
see my wrongs righted and their own pride horribly confounded. A milder spirit
rules our prayers under the gentle reign of the Prince of Peace, and, therefore,
we can only use such words as these in their prophetic sense, knowing as we do
full well, that shame and the silence of death are the best portion that ungodly
sinners can expect. That which they desired for despised believers shall come
upon themselves by a decree of retributive justice, at which they cannot
cavil--"As he loved mischief, so let it come upon him."
Verse 18. Let the lying lips be put to silence. A right good
and Christian prayer; who but a bad man would give liars more license than need
be? May God silence them either by leading them to repentance, by putting them
to thorough shame, or by placing them in positions where what they may say will
stand for nothing. Which speak grievous things proudly and
contemptuously against the righteous. The sin of slanderers lies partly in
the matter of their speech; "they speak grievous things; "things cutting deep
into the feelings of good men, and wounding them sorely in that tender
place--their reputations. The sin is further enhanced by the manner of their
speech; they speak proudly and contemptuously; they talk as if they themselves
were the cream of society, and the righteous the mere scum of vulgarity. Proud
thoughts of self are generally attended by debasing estimates of others. The
more room we take up ourselves, the less we can afford our neighbours. What
wickedness it is that unworthy characters should always be the loudest in
railing at good men! They have no power to appreciate moral worth of which they
are utterly destitute, and yet they have the effrontery to mount the judgment
seat, and judge the men compared with whom they are as so much chaff. Holy
indignation may well prompt us to desire anything which may rid the world of
such unbearable impertinence and detestable arrogance.
Verses 19-22. Being full of faith, the psalmist gives glory
to God for the mercy which he is assured will be his position.
Verse 19. Oh how great is thy goodness. Is it not singular
to find such a joyful sentence in connection with so much sorrow? Truly the life
of faith is a miracle. When faith led David to his God, she set him singing at
once. He does not tell us how great was God's goodness, for he could not; there
are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable goodness of Jehovah, who is
goodness itself. Holy amazement uses interjections where adjectives utterly
fail. Notes of exclamation suit us when words of explanation are of no avail. If
we cannot measure we can marvel; and though we may not calculate with accuracy,
we can adore with fervency. Which thou hast laid up for them that fear
thee. The psalmist in contemplation divides goodness into two parts, that
which is in store and that which is wrought out. The Lord has laid up in reserve
for his people supplies beyond all count. In the treasury of the covenant, in
the field of redemption, in the caskets of the promises, in the granaries of
providence, the Lord has provided for all the needs which can possibly occur to
his chosen. We ought often to consider the laid up goodness of God which has not
yet been distributed to the chosen, but is already provided for them: if we are
much in such contemplations, we shall be led to feel devout gratitude, such as
glowed in the heart of David. Which thou hast wrought for them that trust in
thee before the sons of men. Heavenly mercy is not all hidden in the
storehouse; in a thousand ways it has already revealed itself on behalf of those
who are bold to avow their confidence in God; before their fellow men this
goodness of the Lord has been displayed, that a faithless generation might stand
rebuked. Overwhelming are the proofs of the Lord's favour to believers, history
teems with amazing instances, and our own lives are full of prodigies of grace.
We serve a good Master. Faith receives a large reward even now, but looks for
her full inheritance in the future. Who would not desire to take his lot with
the servants of a Master whose boundless love fills all holy minds with
Verse 20. Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence
from the pride of man. Pride is a barbed weapon: the proud man's
contumely is iron which entereth into the soul; but those who trust in God, are
safely housed in the Holy of holies, the innermost court, into which no man may
dare intrude; here in the secret dwelling place of God the mind of the saint
rests in peace, which the foot of pride cannot disturb. Dwellers at the foot of
the cross of Christ grow callous to the sneers of the haughty. The wounds of
Jesus distil a balsam which heals all the scars which the jagged weapons of
contempt can inflict upon us; in fact, when armed with the same mind which was
in Christ Jesus, the heart is invulnerable to all the darts of pride. Thou
shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
Tongues are more to be dreaded than beasts of prey--and when they strive, it is
as though a whole pack of wolves were let loose; but the believer is secure even
in this peril, for the royal pavilion of the King of kings shall afford him
quiet shelter and serene security. The secret tabernacle of sacrifice, and the
royal pavilion of sovereignty afford a double security to the Lord's people in
their worst distresses. Observe the immediate action of God, "Thou shalt
hide, ""Thou shalt keep, "the Lord himself is personally present for the
rescue of his afflicted.
Verse 21. Blessed be the Lord. When the Lord blesses us we
cannot do less than bless him in return. For he hath shewed me his
marvellous kindness in a strong city. Was this in Mahanaim, where the
Lord gave him victory over the hosts of Absalom? Or did he refer to Rabbath of
Ammon, where he gained signal triumphs? Or, best of all, was Jerusalem the
strong city where he most experienced the astonishing kindness of his God?
Gratitude is never short of subjects; her Ebenezers stand so close together as
to wall up her path to heaven on both sides. Whether in cities or in hamlets our
blessed Lord has revealed himself to us, we shall never forget the hallowed
spots: the lonely mount of Hermon, or the village of Emmaus, or the rock of
Patmos, or the wilderness of Horeb, are all alike renowned when God manifests
himself to us in robes of love.
Verse 22. Confession of faults is always proper; and when we
reflect upon the goodness of God, we ought to be reminded of our own errors and
offences. For I said in my haste. We generally speak amiss when we are in
a hurry. Hasty words are but for a moment on the tongue, but they often lie for
years on the conscience. I am cut off from before thine eyes. This was an
unworthy speech; but unbelief will have a corner in the heart of the firmest
believer, and out of that corner it will vent many spiteful things against the
Lord if the course of providence be not quite so smooth as nature might desire.
No saint ever was, or ever could be, cut off from before the eyes of God, and
yet no doubt many have thought so, and more than one has said so. For ever be
such dark suspicions banished from our minds. Nevertheless thou heardest the
voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee. What a mercy that
if we believe not, yet God abideth faithful, hearing prayer even when we
are labouring under doubts which dishonour his name. If we consider the
hindrances in the way of our prayers, and the poor way in which we present them,
it is a wonder of wonders that they ever prevail with heaven.
Verse 23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints. A most
affecting exhortation, showing clearly the deep love of the writer to his God:
there is the more beauty in the expression, because it reveals love toward a
smiting God, love which many waters could not quench. To bless him who gives is
easy, but to cling to him who takes away is a work of grace. All the saints are
benefited by the sanctified miseries of one, if they are led by earnest
exhortations to love their Lord the better. If saints do not love the Lord, who
will? Love is the universal debt of all the saved family: who would wish to be
exonerated from its payment? Reasons for love are given, for believing love is
not blind. For the Lord preserveth the faithful. They have to bide
their time, but the recompense comes at last, and meanwhile all the cruel malice
of their enemies cannot destroy them. And plentifully rewardeth the proud
doer. This also is cause for gratitude: pride is so detestable in its acts
that he who shall mete out to it its righteous due, deserves the love of all
Verse 24. Be of good courage. Keep up your spirit, let no
craven thoughts blanch your cheek. Fear weakens, courage strengthens. Victory
waits upon the banners of the brave. And he shall strengthen your
heart. Power from on high shall be given in the most effectual manner by
administering force to the fountain of vitality. So far from leaving us, the
Lord will draw very near to us in our adversity, and put his own power into us.
All ye that hope in the Lord. Every one of you, lift up your heads
and sing for joy of heart. God is faithful, and does not fail even his little
children who do but hope, wherefore then should we be afraid?
EXPLANATORY NOTES AND QUAINT SAYINGS
Verse 1. In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust. Let us
therefore shun mistrust; doubt is death, trust alone is life. Let us make sure
that we trust the Lord, and never take our trust on trust. Let me never
be ashamed. If David prays against being ashamed, let us strive against
it. Lovers of Jesus should be ashamed of being ashamed. C. H. S.
Verse 1. Deliver me in thy righteousness. For supporting thy
faith, mark well whereon it may safely rest; even upon God's righteousness,
as well as upon his mercy. On this ground did the apostle in faith expect
the crown of righteousness 2Ti 4:7-8, because the Lord from whom he expected it
is a righteous judge; and the psalmist is bold to appeal to the righteousness of
God. Ps 35:24. For we may be well assured that what God's goodness, grace, and
mercy moved him to promise, his truth, his faithfulness, and righteousness will
move him to perform. William Gouge.
Shadows are faithless, and the rocks are false;
No trust in brass, no trust in marble walls;
Poor cots are even as safe as princes' halls.
Great God! there is no safety here below;
Thou art my fortress, thou that seemest my foe,
It is thou that strik'st the stroke, must guard the blow.
Thou art my God, by thee I fall or stand;
Thy grace hath given me courage to withstand
All tortures, but my conscience and thy hand.
I know thy justice is thyself; I know,
Just God, thy very self is mercy too;
If not to thee, where, whither shall I go?
Verse 2. Bow down thy ear. Listen to my complaint. Put thy
ear to my lips, that thou mayest hear all that my feebleness is capable
of uttering. We generally put our ear near to the lips of the sick and dying
that we may hear what they say. To this the text appears to allude. Adam
Verse 2. Deliver me speedily. In praying that he might be
delivered speedily there is shown the greatness of his danger, as if he
had said, All will soon be over with my life, unless God makes haste to help me.
Verses 2-3. Be thou my strong rock, etc. What the Lord is
engaged to be unto us by covenant, we may pray and expect to find him in effect.
"Be thou my strong rock," saith he, "for thou art my rock."
Verse 3. For thy name's sake. If merely a creature's honour,
the credit of ministers, or the glory of angels were involved, man's salvation
would indeed be uncertain. But every step involves the honour of God. We plead
for his name's sake. If God should begin and not continue, or if he
should carry on but not complete the work, all would admit that it was for some
reason that must bring reproach on the Almighty. This can never be. God was self
moved to undertake man's salvation. His glorious name makes it certain the top
stone shall be laid in glory. William S. Plumer.
Verse 3. For thy name's sake. On account of the fame of thy
power, thy goodness, thy truth, &c. Lead me. As a shepherd an erring
sheep, as a leader military bands, or as one leads another ignorant of the way.
See Ge 24:27 Ne 9:12-13 Ps 23:3 73:24. Govern my counsels, my affections, and my
thoughts. Martin Geier, 1614-1681.
Verse 4. Pull me out of the net: that noted net, as
the Hebrew hath it. John Trapp.
Verse 4. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for
me. By these words, he intimates that his enemies did not only by open force
come against him, but by cunning and policy attempted to circumvent him, as when
they put him on, as Saul instructed them, to be the king's son-in-law, and to
this end set him on to get two hundred foreskins of the Philistines for a dowry,
under a pretence of goodwill, seeking his ruin; and when wait also was laid for
him to kill him in his house. But he trusted in God, and prayed to be delivered,
if there should be any the like enterprise against him hereafter. John
Verse 4. For thou art my strength. Omnipotence cuts the net
which policy weaves. When we poor puny things are in the net, God is not. In the
old fable the mouse set free the lion, here the lion liberates the mouse. C.
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit. These were the
last words of Polycarp, of Bernard, of Huss, of Jerome of Prague, of Luther, of
Melancthon, and many others. "Blessed are they, "says Luther, "who die not only
for the Lord, as martyrs, not only in the Lord, as all believers,
but likewise with the Lord, as breathing forth their lives in these
words, 'Into thine hand I commit my spirit.'" J. J. Stewart Perowne.
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit. These words, as
they stand in the Vulgate, were in the highest credit among our
ancestors; by whom they were used on all dangers, difficulties, and in the
article of death. In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum,
was used by the sick when about to expire, if they were sensible; and if
not, the priest said it in their behalf. In forms of prayer for sick and
dying persons, these words were frequently inserted in Latin, though all the
rest of the prayer was English; for it was supposed there was something
sovereign in the language itself. But let not the abuse of such words
hinder their usefulness. For an ejaculation nothing can be better; and when the
pious or the tempted with confidence use them, nothing can exceed their effect.
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit, etc. For what
are the saints to commit their spirits into the hands of God by Jesus Christ?
1. That they may be safe; i.e., preserved in their
passage to heaven, from all the enemies and dangers that may stand in the way.
When saints die, the powers of darkness would, doubtless, if possible, hinder
the ascending of their souls to God. As they are cast out of heaven, they are
filled with rage to see any out of our world going thither. One thing,
therefore, which the saint means in committing his spirit into the hands of God,
is, that the precious depositum may be kept from all that wish or would
attempt its ruin. And they are sure that almighty power belongs to God: and if
this is engaged for their preservation, none can pluck them out of his hand. The
Redeemer hath spoiled principalities and powers, and proved it by his triumphant
ascension to glory; and hath all his and the believer's enemies in a chain, so
that they shall be more than conquerors in and through him. Angels, for order's
sake, are sent forth to minister to them and be their guard, who will faithfully
attend them their charge, till they are brought to the presence of the common
Lord of both. "I know, "saith the apostle, "whom I have believed; and I am
persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against
2. They commit their soul into the hands of God, that they may
be admitted to dwell with him, even in that presence of his where there is
fulness of joy, and where there are pleasures for evermore: where all evil is
excluded, and all good present, to fill their desires, and find them matter of
praise to all eternity.
3. They commit their departing spirits into the hands of God,
that their bodies may be at length raised and reunited to them, and that so they
may enter at last into the blessedness prepared for them that love him...The
grounds on which they may do this with comfort, i.e., with lively hopes
of being happy for ever, are many. To mention only two:
(a) God's interest in them, and upon the most endearing
foundation, that of redemption. Into thine hand I commit my spirit; for thou hast redeemed me.
Redeemed me from hell and the wrath to come, by giving thy
Son to die for me. Lord, I am not only thy creature, but thy redeemed creature,
bought with a price, saith the saint. Redeemed me from the power of my inward corruption, and
from love to it, and delight in it; and with my consent hast drawn me to be
thine, and thine for ever. Lord, I am thine, save me unchangeably.
(b) His known faithfulness. Into thine hand I commit my
spirit, O Lord God of truth. Into thine hand I commit my spirit, who
hast been a God of truth, in performing thy promises to all thy people
that are gone before me out of this world; and has been so to me hitherto, and,
I cannot doubt, wilt continue so to the end. Daniel Wilcox.
Verse 5. Into thine hand. When those hands fail me, then I
am indeed abandoned and miserable! When they sustain and keep me, then am I
safe, exalted, strong, and filled with good.
Receive me then, O Eternal Father, for the sake of our Lord's
merits and words; for he, by his obedience and his death, hath now merited from
thee everything which I do not merit of myself. Into thy hands, my Father and my
God, I commend my spirit, my soul, my body, my powers, my desires. I offer up to
thy hands, all; to them I commit all that I have hitherto been, that thou mayest
forgive and restore all; my wounds, that thou mayest heal them; my blindness,
that thou mayest enlighten it; my coldness, that thou mayest inflame it; my
wicked and erring way, that thou mayest set me forth in the right path; and all
my evils, that thou mayest uproot them all from my soul. I commend and offer up
into thy most sacred hands, O my God, what I am, which thou knowest far better
than I can know, weak, wretched, wounded, fickle, blind, deaf, dumb, poor, bare
of every good, nothing, yea, less than nothing, on account of my many sins, and
more miserable than I can either know or express. Do thou, Lord God, receive me
and make me to become what he, the divine Lamb, would have me to be. I commend,
I offer up, I deliver over into thy divine hands, all my affairs, my cares, my
affections, my success, my comforts, my labours, and everything which thou
knowest to be coming upon me. Direct all to thy honour and glory; teach me in
all to do thy will, and in all to recognise the work of thy divine hands; to
seek nothing else, and with this reflection alone to find rest and comfort in
O hands of the Eternal God, who made and still preserve the
heavens and earth for my sake, and who made me for yourselves, suffer me not
ever to stray from you. In those hands I possess my Lamb, and all I love; in
them therefore must I be also, together with him. Together with him, in these
loving hands shall I sleep and rest in peace, since he in dying left me hope in
them and in their infinite mercies, placed me within them, as my only and my
special refuge. Since by these hands I live and am what I am, make me
continually to live through them, and in them to die; in them to live in the
love of our Lord, and from them only to desire and look for every good; that
from them I may at last, together with the Lord, receive the crown. Fra Thome
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit. No shadowy form
of a dark destiny stands before him at the end of his career, although he must
die on the cross, the countenance of his Father shines before him. He does not
behold his life melting away into the gloomy floods of mortality. He commends it
into the hands of his Father. It is not alone in the general spirit of humanity,
that he will continue to live. He will live on in the definite personality of
his own spirit, embraced by the special protection and faithfulness of his
Father. Thus he does not surrender his life despondingly to death for
destruction, but with triumphant consciousness to the Father for resurrection.
It was the very centre of his testament: assurance of life; surrender of his
life into the hand of a living Father. With loud voice he exclaimed it to the
world, which will for ever and ever sink into the heathenish consciousness of
death, of the fear of death, of despair of immortality and resurrection, because
it for ever and ever allows the consciousness of the personality of God, and of
personal union with him, to be obscured and shaken. With the heart of a lion,
the dying Christ once more testified of life with an expression which was
connected with the word of the Old Testament Psalm, and testified that the
Spirit of eternal life was already operative, in prophetic anticipation, in the
old covenant. Thus living as ever, he surrendered his life, through death, to
the eternally living One. His death was the last and highest fact, the crown of
his holy life. J.P. Lange, D.D., in "The Life of the Lord Jesus Christ."
Verse 5. Into thine hand I commit my spirit. David committed
his spirit to God that he might not die, but Christ and all Christians after
him, commit their spirit to God, that they may live for ever by death, and after
death. This Psalm is thus connected with the twenty-second Psalm. Both of these
Psalms were used by Christ on the cross. From the twenty-second he derived those
bitter words of anguish, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" From the present Psalm
he derived those last words of love and trust which he uttered just before his
death. The Psalter was the hymn book and prayer book of Christ. Christopher
Verse 6. I have hated. Holy men have strong passions, and
are not so mincing and charitable towards evil doers as smooth tongued
latitudinarians would have them. He who does not hate evil does not love good.
There is such a thing as a good hater. C. H. S
Verse 6. They that regard lying vanities. The Romanists
feign miracles of the saints to make them, as they suppose, the more glorious.
They say that the house wherein the Virgin Mary was when the angel Gabriel came
unto her was, many hundred years after, translated, first, out of Galilee into
Dalmatia, above 2,000 miles, and thence over the sea into Italy, where also it
removed from one place to another, till at length it found a place where to
abide, and many most miraculous cures, they say, were wrought by it, and that
the very trees when it came, did bow unto it. Infinite stories they have of this
nature, especially in the Legend of Saints, which they call "The Golden Legend,
"a book so full of gross stuff that Ludovicus Vives, a Papist, but learned and
ingenuous, with great indignations cried out, "What can be more abominable than
that book?" and he wondered why they should call it "golden, "when as he that
wrote it was a man "of an iron mouth and of a leaden heart." And Melchior Canus,
a Romish bishop, passed the same censure upon that book, and complains (as Vives
also had done before him), that Laertius wrote the lives of philosophers, and
Suetonius the lives of the Caesars, more sincerely than some did the lives of
the saints and martyrs. They are most vain and superstitious in the honour which
they give to the relics of the saints; as their dead bodies, or some parts of
them; their bones, flesh, hair; yea, their clothes that they wore, or the like.
"You may now, everywhere, "saith Erasmus, "see held out for gain, "Mary's milk,
which they honour almost as much as Christ's consecrated body; prodigious oil;
so many pieces of the cross, that if they were all gathered together a great
ship would scarce carry them. Here Francis's hood set forth to view; there the
innermost garment of the Virgin Mary; in one place, Anna's comb; in another
place, Joseph's stocking; in another place, Thomas of Canterbury's shoe; in
another place, Christ's foreskin, which, though it be a thing uncertain, they
worship more religiously than Christ's whole person. Neither do they bring forth
these things as things that may be tolerated, and to please the common people,
but all religion almost is placed in them. (Erasmus, on Mt 23:5). Christopher
Verse 6. The sense lies thus, that heathen men, when any
danger or difficulty approacheth them, are solemnly wont to apply themselves to
auguries and divinations, and so to false gods, to receive advice and direction
from them: but doing so and observing their responses most superstitiously, they
yet gain nothing at all by it. These David detests, and keeps close to God,
hoping for no aid but from him. H. Hammond, D.D.
Verse 7. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy. In the
midst of trouble faith will furnish matter of joy, and promise to itself
gladness, especially from the memory of by past experiences of God's mercy; as
here, I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy. ...The ground of our
gladness, when we have found a proof of God's kindness to us should not be in
the benefit so much as in the fountain of the benefit; for this giveth us hope
to drink again of the like experience from the fountain which did send forth
that benefit. Therefore David says, I will be glad and rejoice in thy
mercy. David Dickson.
Verse 7. Thou hast considered my trouble:
Man's plea to man, is, that he never more
Will beg, and that he never begged before:
Man's plea to God, is, that he did obtain
A former suit, and, therefore sues again.
How good a God we serve, that when we sue,
Makes his old gifts the examples of his new!
Verse 7. Thou hast known my soul in adversities. One day a
person who, by the calamities of war, sickness, and other affliction, had been
reduced from a state of affluence to penury, came to Gotthold in great distress.
He complained that he had just met one of his former acquaintances, who was even
not distantly related to him, but that he had not condescended to bow, far less
to speak to him, and he had turned his eyes away, and passed him as if he had
been a stranger. O sir, he exclaimed with a sigh, how it pained me! I felt as if
a dagger had pierced my heart! Gotthold replied, Do not think it strange at all.
It is the way of the world to look high, and to pass unnoticed that which is
humble and lowly. I know, however, of One who, though he dwelleth on
high, humbleth himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth
Ps 113:5-6, and of whom the royal prophet testifies: Thou hast known my soul
in adversities. Yes; though we have lost our rich attire, and come to him in
rags; though our forms be wasted because of grief, and waxed old (Ps 6:7,
Luther's Version); though sickness and sorrow have consumed our beauty like a
moth Ps 39:11; though blushes, and tears, and dust, overspread our face Ps 69:7,
he still recognises, and is not ashamed to own us. Comfort yourself with this,
for what harm will it do you at last, though men disown, if God the Lord have
not forgotten you? Christian Scriver.
Verse 8. He openeth and no man shutteth. Let us bless the
Lord for an open door which neither men nor devils can close. We are not in
man's hands yet, because we are in the hands of God; else had our feet been in
the stocks and not in the large room of liberty. Our enemies, if they were as
able as they are willing, would long ago have treated us as fowlers do the
little birds when they enclose them in their hand. C. H. S.
Verse 9. Mine eye is consumed with grief. This expression
seems to suggest that the eye really suffers under the influence of grief. There
was an old idea, which still prevails amongst the uninstructed, that the eye,
under extreme grief, and with a constant profuse flow of tears, might sink away
and perish under the ordeal. There is no solid foundation for this idea, but
there is a very serious form of disease of the eyes, well known to oculists by
the title of Glaucoma, which seems to be very much influenced by mental emotions
of a depressing nature. I have know many striking instances of cases in which
there has been a constitutional proneness to Glaucoma, and in which some sudden
grief has brought on a violent access of the disease and induced blindness of an
incurable nature. In such instances the explanation seems to be somewhat as
follows. It is essential to the healthy performance of the functions of the eye,
that it should possess a given amount of elasticity, which again results from an
exact balance between the amount of fluid within the eye, and the external
fibrous case or bag that contains or encloses it. If this is disturbed, if the
fluid increases unduly in quantity, and the eye becomes too hard, pain and
inflammation may be suddenly induced in the interior of the eye, and sight may
become rapidly extinguished. There are a special set of nerves that preside over
this peculiar physical condition, and keep the eye in a proper state of
elasticity; and it is a remarkable fact, that through a long life, as a rule, we
find that the eye preserves this elastic state. If, however, the function of
these nerves is impaired, as it may readily be under the influence of extreme
grief, or any depressing agent, the eye may become suddenly hard. Until a
comparatively recent date, acute Glaucoma, or sudden hardening of the eye,
attended with intense pain and inflammation, caused complete and hopeless
blindness; but in the present day it is capable of relief by means of an
operation. The effect of grief in causing this form of blindness seems to be an
explanation of the text, Mine eye is consumed with grief. On application for information to the Royal London Ophthalmic
Hospital, as to the effect of grief upon the eye, we received the above, with
much other valuable information, from GEORGE CRITCHETT, Esq., the senior medical
officer. The courtesy of this gentleman, and of the secretary of that noble
institution, deserves special mention.
If thou wouldst learn, not knowing how to pray,
Add but a faith, and say as beggars say: Master, I am poor,
and blind, in great distress, Hungry, and lame, and cold, and
comfortless; O succour him that's gravelled on the shelf Of pain,
and want, and cannot help himself Cast down thine eye upon a wretch, and
take Some pity on me for sweet Jesus' sake: But hold! take heed
this clause be not put in, I never begged before, nor will again. --Francis Quarles.
Verse 10. Mine iniquity. Italian version, "my pains;
"because that death and all miseries are come into the world by reason of
sin, the Scripture doth often confound the names of the cause and of the
effects. John Diodati.
Verse 10.. I find that when the saints are under trial and
well humbled, little sins raise great cries in the conscience; but in
prosperity, conscience is a pope that gives dispensations and great latitude to
our hearts. The cross is therefore as needful as the crown is glorious.
Verse 11. I was a reproach among all mine enemies. If anyone
strives after patience and humility, he is a hypocrite. If he allows himself in
the pleasures of this world, he is a glutton. If he seeks justice, he is
impatient; if he seeks it not, he is a fool. If he would be prudent, he is
stingy; if he would make others happy, he is dissolute. If he gives himself up
to prayer, he is vainglorious. And this is the great loss of the church, that by
means like these many are held back from goodness! which the psalmist lamenting
says, I became a reproof among all mine enemies. Chrysostom, quoted by
Verse 11. They that did see me without fled from me. I once
heard the following relation from an old man of the world, and it occurs to me,
as illustrative of what we are now considering. He was at a public assembly, and
saw there an individual withdrawing herself from the crowd, and going into a
corner of the room. He went up to her, she was an old and intimate friend of
his; he addressed himself to her--she, with a sigh, said, "Oh, I have seen many
days of trouble since we last met." What does the man of the world do?
Immediately he withdrew himself from his sorrow stricken friend and hid himself
in the crowd. Such is the sympathy of the world with Christ or his servants.
Verse 12. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind. A
striking instance of how the greatest princes are forgotten in death is found in
the deathbed of Louis XIV. "The Louis that was, lies forsaken, a mass of
abhorred clay; abandoned `to some poor persons, and priests of the Chapelle
Ardente, 'who make haste to put him `in two lead coffins, pouring in
abundant spirits of wine.' The new Louis with his court is rolling towards
Choisy, through the summer afternoon: the royal tears still flow; but a word
mispronounced by Monseigneur d'Artois sets them all laughing, and they weep no
more." Thomas Carlyle in "The French Revolution."
Verse 12. I am forgotten, etc. As a dying man with curtains
drawn, whom friends have no hope of, and therefore look off from; or rather like
a dead man laid aside out of sight and out of mind altogether, and buried more
in oblivion than in his grave; when the news is, "she is dead, trouble not the
Master." Lu 8:49. Anthony Tuckney, D.D., 1599-1670.
Verse 12. I am like a broken vessel. As a vessel, how
profitable soever it hath been to the owner, and how necessary for his turn,
yet, when it is broken is thrown away, and regarded no longer: even so such is
the state of a man forsaken of those whose friend he hath been so long as he was
able to stand them in stead to be of advantage to them. Robert Cawdray.
Verse 13. I have heard the slander of many. From my very
childhood when I was first sensible of the concerns of men's souls, I was
possessed with some admiration to find that everywhere the religious, godly sort
of people, who did but exercise a serious care of their own and other men's
salvation, were made the wonder and obloquy of the world, especially of the most
vicious and flagitious men; so that they that professed the same articles of
faith, the same commandments of God to be their law, and the same petitions of
the Lord's prayer to be their desire, and so professed the same religion, did
everywhere revile those that endeavoured to live in good earnest in what they
said. I thought this was impudent hypocrisy in the ungodly, worldly sort of
men--to take those for the most intolerable persons in the land who are but
serious in their own religion, and do but endeavour to perform what all their
enemies also vow and promise. If religion be bad, and our faith be not true, why
do these men profess it? If it be true, and good, why do they hate and revile
them that would live in the serious practise of it, if they will not practise it
themselves? But we must not expect reason when sin and sensuality have made men
unreasonable. But I must profess that since I observed the course of the world,
and the concord of the word and providence of God, I took it for a notable proof
of man's fall, and of the truth of the Scripture, and of the supernatural
original of true sanctification, to find such a universal enmity between the
holy and the serpentine seed, and to find Cain and Able's case so ordinarily
exemplified, and he that is born after the flesh persecuting him that is born
after the Spirit. And I think to this day it is a great and visible help for the
confirmation of our Christian faith. Richard Baxter.
Verse 13. Slander. Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure a snow,
thou shalt not escape calumny. William Shakespeare.
Verse 13. They took counsel together against me, etc. While
they mangled his reputation, they did it in such a manner as that they covered
their wickedness under the appearance of grave and considerate procedure, in
consulting among themselves to destroy him as a man who no longer ought to be
tolerated on the earth. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that his mind
was wounded by so many and so sharp temptations. John Calvin.
Verse 14. But I trusted in thee, O Lord. The rendering
properly is, And I have trusted in thee, but the Hebrew copulative
particle (K), vau, and, is used
here instead of the adversative particle yet, or nevertheless.
David, setting the steadfastness of his faith in opposition to the assaults of
the temptations of which he has made mention, denies that he had ever fainted,
but rather maintains, on the contrary, that he stood firm in his hope of
deliverance from God. Nor does this imply that he boasted of being so
magnanimous and courageous that he could not be overthrown through the infirmity
of the flesh. However contrary to one another they appear, yet these things are
often joined together, as they ought to be, in the same person, namely, that
while he pines away with grief, and is deprived of all strength, he is
nevertheless supported by so strong a hope that he ceases not to call upon God.
David, therefore, was not so overwhelmed in deep sorrow, and other direful
sufferings, as that the hidden light of faith could not shine inwardly in his
heart; nor did he groan so much under the weighty load of his temptations, as to
be prevented from arousing himself to call upon God. He struggled through many
obstacles to be able to make the confession which he here makes. He next defines
the manner of his faith, namely, that he reflected with himself thus--that God
would never fail him nor forsake him. Let us mark his manner of speech: I
have said, Thou art my God. In these words he intimates that he was so
entirely persuaded of this truth, that God was his God, that he would not admit
even a suggestion to the contrary. And until this persuasion prevails so as to
take possession of our minds, we shall always waver in uncertainty. It is,
however, to be observed, that this declaration is not only inward and
secret--made rather in the heart than with the tongue--but that it is directed to
God himself, as to him who is the alone witness of it. Nothing is more
difficult, when we see our faith derided by the whole world, than to direct our
speech to God only, and to rest satisfied with this testimony which our
conscience gives us, that he is our God. And certainly it is an undoubted
proof of genuine faith, when, however fierce the waves are which beat against
us, and however sore the assaults by which we are shaken, we hold fast this as a
fixed principle, that we are constantly under the protection of God, and can say
to him freely, Thou art our God. John Calvin.
Verse 14. Thou art my God. How much it is more worth than
ten thousand mines of gold, to be able to say, God is mine! God's servant is
apprehensive of it, and he seeth no defect, but this may be complete happiness
to him, and therefore he delights in it, and comforts himself with it. As he did
sometime who was a great courtier in King Cyrus's court, and one in favour with
him; he was to bestow his daughter in marriage to a very great man, and of
himself he had no great means; and therefore one said to him, O Sir, where will
you have means to bestow a dowry upon your daughter proportionable to her
degree? Where are your riches? He answered, What need I care, opou Kuros moi
filos Cyrus is my friend. But may not we say much more, opou Kurios moi
filos, where the Lord is our friend, that hath those excellent and glorious
attributes that cannot come short in any wants, or to make us happy, especially
we being capable of it, and made proportionable. John Stoughton's "Righteous
Man's Plea to True Happiness," 1640.
Verse 15. My times are in thy hand. It is observable that
when, of late years, men grow weary of the long and tedious compass in their
voyages to the East Indies, and would needs try a more compendious way by the
North west passage, it ever proved unsuccessful. Thus it is that we must not use
any compendious way; we may not neglect our body, nor shipwreck our health, nor
anything to hasten death, because we shall gain by it. He that maketh haste
(even this way) to be rich shall not be innocent; for our times are in God's
hands, and therefore to his holy providence we must leave them. We have a great
deal of work to do, and must not, therefore, be so greedy of our Sabbath day,
our rest, as not to be contented with our working day, our labour. Hence it is
that a composed frame of mind, like that of the apostle's Php 1:21, wherein
either to stay and work, or to go and rest, is the best temper of all. Edward
Reynolds, in J. Spencer's "Things New and Old."
Verse 15. My times. He does not use the plural number, in my
opinion, without reason; but rather to mark the variety of casualties by which
the life of man is usually harassed. John Calvin.
Verse 15. In thy hand. The watch hangs ticking against the
wall, when every tick of the watch is a sigh, and a consciousness, alas! Poor
watch! I called once to see a friend, the physician and the secretary of one of
the most noble and admirable of the asylums for the insane in this country. A
poor creature, with a clear, bright intelligence, only that some of its chords
had become unstrung, who had usually occupied itself innocently by making or
unmaking watches, had just before I called, exhibited some new, alarming
symptoms, dashing one and then another upon the stone floor, and shivering them.
Removed into a more safe room, I visited him with the secretary. "How came you
to destroy your favourite watches, so much as you loved them, and so quiet as
you are?" said my friend; and the poor patient replied, in a tone of piercing
agony, "I could not bear the tick, tick, ticking, and so I dashed it on the
pavement." But when the watch is able to surrender itself to the maker, to the
hand holding the watch, and measuring out the moments, it becomes a sight
affecting indeed, but very beautiful, very sublime. We transfer our thoughts
from the watch to the hand that holds the watch. My times, Thy
hand; the watch and the hour have a purpose, and so are not in vain. God
gives man permission to behold two things. Man can see the whole work, the
plan's completeness, also the minutest work, the first step towards the plan's
completeness. Nothing is more certain, nothing are men more indisposed to
perceive than this. We have to
"Wait for some transcendent life,
Reserved by God to follow this."
To this end God's real way is made up of all the ways of our
life. His hand holds all our times. My times; ""Thy hand." Some
lives greatly differ from others. This we know; but see, some lives fulfil
life's course, gain life's crown--life in their degree. This, on the contrary,
others quite miss. Yet, for even human strength there must be a love meted out
to rule it. It is said, there is a moon to control the tides of every sea; is
there not a master power for souls? It may not always be so, apparently, in the
more earthly lives, but it is so in the heavenly; not more surely does the moon
sway tides, than God sways souls. It does not seem sometimes as if man found no
adequate external power, and stands forth ordained to be a law to his own
sphere; but even then his times are in the hands of God, as the pathway of a
star is in the limitations of its system--as the movements of a satellite are in
the forces of its planet. But while I would not pause on morbid words or views
of life, so neither do I desire you to receive or charge me with giving only a
moody, morbid view of the world, and an imperfect theology; but far other.
My times are in thy hand --the hand of my Saviour."
"I report as a man may of God's work--all's love, but all's law.
In the Godhead I seek and I find it, and so it shall be
A face like my face that receives thee, a Man like to me Thou
shalt love and be loved by for ever, a hand like this hand Shall throw open the
gates of new life to thee: See the Christ stand!" --Robert Browning.
And now he is "the restorer of paths to dwell in." The hand of
Jesus is the hand which rules our times. He regulates our life clock. Christ for
and Christ in us. My times in his hand. My life can be no more in
vain than was my Saviour's life in vain. E. Paxton Hood, in "Dark Sayings on
a Harp," 1865.
Verse 15. When David had Saul at his mercy in the cave,
those about him said, This is the time in which God will deliver thee.
1Sa 24:4. No, saith David, the time is not come for my deliverance till it can
be wrought without sin, and I will wait for that time; for it is God's time, and
that is the best time. Matthew Henry.
Verse 16. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant. When the
cloud of trouble hideth the Lord's favour, faith knoweth it may shine again, and
therefore prayeth through the cloud for the dissolving of it. Make thy face
to shine upon thy servant. David Dickson.
Verse 18. Lying lips...which speak grievous things proudly
and contemptuously against the righteous. The primitive persecutors
slighted the Christians for a company of bad, illiterate fellows, and therefore
they used to paint the God of the Christians with an ass's head and a book in
his hand, saith Tertullian; to signify, that though they pretended learning, yet
they were silly and ignorant people. Bishop Jewel, in his sermon upon Lu 11:15,
cites this out of Tertullian and applies it to his times. Do not our adversaries
the like, saith he, against all that profess the gospel? Oh! say they, who are
those that favour this way? None but shoemakers, tailors, weavers, and such as
never were at the University. These are the bishop's own words. Bishop White
said in open court, that the Puritans were all a company of blockheads.
Verse 18. Lying lips...which speak grievous things proudly
and contemptuously against the righteous. In that venerable and
original monument of the Vaudois Church, entitled "The Golden Lesson, " of the
date 1100, we meet with a verse, which has been thus translated: --
"If there be anyone who loves and fears Jesus Christ,
Who will not curse, nor swear, nor lie,
Nor be unchaste, nor kill, nor take what is another's.
Nor take vengeance on his enemies;
They say that he is a Vaudes, and worthy of punishment."
--Antoine Monastier, in "A History of Vaudois Church," 1859.
Verse 19. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee. As a provident man will regulate his
liberality towards all men in such a manner as not to defraud his children or
family, nor impoverish his own house, by spending his substance prodigally on
others; so God, in like manner, in exercising his beneficence to aliens from his
family, knows well how to reserve for his own children that which belongs to
them, as it were by hereditary right; that is to say, because of their adoption.
Verse 19. Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee. Mark the phrase "Laid up for them; "his
mercy and goodness it is intended for them, as a father that lays by such a sum
of money, and writes on the bag, "This is a portion for such a child." But how
comes the Christian to have this right to God, and all that vast and untold
treasure of happiness which is in him? This indeed is greatly to be heeded; it
is faith that gives him a good title to all this. That which maketh him a child,
makes him an heir. Now, faith makes him a child of God. Joh 1:12, "But as many
as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them
that believed on his name." As therefore if you would not call your birthright
into question, and bring your interest in Christ and those glorious privileges
that come along with him, under a sad dispute in your soul, look to your faith.
Verse 19. How great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up
for them that fear thee. When I reflect upon the words of thy
prophet, it seems to me that he means to depict God as a father who, no doubt,
keeps his children under discipline, and subjects them to the rod; but who, with
all his labours and pains, still aims at nothing but to lay up for them a store
which may contribute to their comfort when they have grown to maturity, and
learned the prudent use of it. My Father, in this world thou hidest from thy
children thy great goodness, as if it did not pertain to them. But being thy
children, we may be well assured that the celestial treasure will be bestowed
upon none else. For this reason, I will bear my lot with patience. But, oh! from
time to time, waft to me a breath of air from the heavenly land, to refresh my
sorrowful heart; I will then wait more calmly for its full fruition.
Verse 19. Oh how great is thy goodness. Let me, to set the
crown on the head of the duty of meditation, add one thing over and
above--let meditation be carried up to admiration: not only should we be
affected, but transported, rapt up and ravished with the beauties and
transcendencies of heavenly things; act meditation to admiration, endeavour the
highest pitch, coming the nearest to the highest patterns, the patterns of
saints and angels in heaven, whose actings are the purest, highest ecstasies and
admirations. Thus were these so excellent artists in meditation, David, an high
actor of admiration in meditation, as often we see it in the psalms; so in Ps
8:1,9 31:19; "Oh how great is thy goodness, "etc.: Ps 104:24 "O Lord, how
manifold are thy works, "etc; and in other places David's meditation and
admiration were as his harp, well tuned, and excellently played on, in rarest
airs and highest strains; as the precious gold, and the curious burnishing; or
the richest stone, and the most exquisite polishing and setting of it. So
blessed Paul, who was a great artist in musing, acted high in admiration, his
soul was very warm and flaming up in it: it was as a bird with a strong and long
wing that soars and towers up aloft, and gets out of sight. Nathanael
Verse 19. Before the sons of men, i.e., openly. The
psalmist here perhaps refers to temporal blessings conferred on the pious, and
evident to all. Some, however, have supposed the reference to be to the reward
of the righteous, bestowed with the utmost publicity on the day of judgment;
which better agrees with our interpretation of the former part of the verse.
Daniel Cresswell, D.D., F.R.S. (1776-1844), in loc.
Verse 19. Believe it, Sirs, you cannot conceive what a
friend you shall have of God, would you be but persuaded to enter into covenant
with him, to be his, wholly his. I tell you, many that sometimes thought and did
as you do now, that is, set light by Christ and hate God, and see no loveliness
in him, are now quite of another mind; they would not for ten thousand worlds
quit their interest in him. Oh, who dare say that he is a hard Master? Who that
knows him will say that he is an unkind friend? Oh, what do poor creatures all,
that they do entertain such harsh sour thoughts of God? What, do they think that
there is nothing in that scripture, Oh how great is thy goodness,
which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee! Doth the psalmist
speak too largely? Doth he say more than he and others could prove? Ask him, and
he will tell you in verse 21, that he blesseth God. These were things he could
speak to, from his own personal experience; and many thousands as well as he, to
whom the Lord had showed his marvellous kindness, and therefore he doth very
passionately plead with the people of God to love him, and more highly to
express their sense of his goodness, that the world might be encouraged also to
have good thoughts of him. James Janeway.
Verse 19. Very observable is that expression of the
psalmist, Oh how great is thy goodness which thou hast laid up for them
that fear thee; which thou hast wrought before the sons of men for
them that trust in thee. In the former clause, God's goodness is said
to be laid up; in the latter, to be wrought. Goodness is laid up
in the promise, wrought in the performance; and that goodness which is laid up
is wrought for them that trust in God; and thus, as God's faithfulness engages
us to believe, so our faith, as it were, engages God's faithfulness to perform
the promise. Nathanael Hardy.
Verse 20. Thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from
the strife of tongues. This our beloved God does secretly, so that no
human eyes may or can see, and the ungodly do not know that a believer is, in
God, and in the presence of God, so well protected, that no reproach or
contempt, and no quarrelsome tongue can do him harm. Arndt, quoted by W.
Verse 22. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications. Who
would have thought those prayers should ever have had any prevalence in God's
ears which were mixed with so much infidelity in the petitioner's heart!
Verse 22. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes. No, no, Christian; a prayer sent up in faith, according to the will of
God, cannot be lost, though it be delayed. We may say of it, as David said of
Saul's sword and Jonathan's bow, that they never return empty. So David adds,
Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried
unto thee. John Flavel.
Verse 22. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes, etc. Let us with whom it was once night, improve that morning joy that
now shines upon us. Let us be continual admirers of God's grace and mercy to us.
He has prevented us with his goodness, when he saw nothing in us but impatience
and unbelief, when we were like Jonas in the belly of hell, his bowels yearned
over us, and his power brought us safe to land. What did we to hasten his
deliverance, or to obtain his mercy? If he had never come to our relief till he
saw something in us to invite him, we had not yet been relieved. No more did we
contribute to our restoration than we do to the rising of the sun, or the
approach of day. We were like dry bones without motion, and without strength.
Eze 37:1-11. And we also said, that `we were cut off for our parts, and our hope
was gone, and he caused breath to enter into us, and we live.' Who is a God like
to our God that pardoneth iniquity, transgression, and sin? that retains not his
anger for ever? that is slow to wrath and delights in mercy? that has been
displeased with us for a moment, but gives us hope of his everlasting kindness?
Oh! what love is due from us to Christ, that has pleaded for us when we
ourselves had nothing to say! That has brought us out of a den of lions, and
from the jaws of the roaring lion! To say, as Mrs. Sarah Wright did, "I have
obtained mercy, that thought my time of mercy past for ever; I have hope of
heaven, that thought I was already damned by unbelief; I said many a time, there
is no hope in mine end, and I thought I saw it; I was so desperate, I cared not
what became of me. Oft was I at the very brink of death and hell, even at the
very gates of both, and then Christ shut them. I was as Daniel in the lion's
den, and he stopped the mouth of those lions, and delivered me. The goodness of
God is unsearchable; how great is the excellency of his majesty, that yet he
would look upon such a one as I; that he has given me peace that was full of
terror, and walked continually as amidst fire and brimstone." Timothy
Verse 22. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes: --i.e., Thou hast quite forsaken me, and I must not expect to be looked
upon or regarded by thee any more. I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul,
and so be cut off from before thine eyes, be ruined while thou lookest on 1Sa
27:1. This he said in his flight (so some read it), which notes the distress of
his affairs: Saul was just at his back, and ready to seize him, which made the
temptation strong; in his haste (so we read it), which notes the
disturbance and discomposure of his mind, which made the temptation surprising,
so that it found him off his guard. Note, it is a common thing to speak amiss,
when we speak in haste and without consideration; but what we speak amiss in
haste, we must repent of at leisure, particularly that which we have spoken
distrustfully of God. Matthew Henry.
Verse 22. I said in my haste. Sometimes a sudden passion
arises, and out it goes in angry and froward words, setting all in an uproar and
combustion: by and by our hearts recur upon us, and then we wish, "O that I had
bit my tongue, and not given it such an unbridled liberty." Sometimes we break
out into rash censures of those that it may be are better than ourselves,
whereupon when we reflect, we are ashamed that the fools' bolt was so soon shot,
and wish we had been judging ourselves when we were censuring our brethren.
Verse 22. Nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my
supplications when I cried unto thee. As if he had said, when I
prayed with so little faith, that I, as it were, unprayed my own prayer, by
concluding my case in a manner desperate; yet God pardoned my hasty spirit, and
gave me that mercy which I had hardly any faith to expect; and what use doth he
make of this experience, but to raise every saint's hope in time of need? "Be
of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in
the Lord." William Gurnall.
Verse 22. He confesseth the great distress he was in, and
how weak his faith was under the temptation; this he doth to his own shame
acknowledge also, that he may give the greater glory to God. Whence learn, 1.
--The faith of the godly may be slackened, and the strongest faith may sometimes
show its infirmity. I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine
eyes. 2. --Though faith be shaken, yet it is fixed in the root, as a tree
beaten by the wind keeping strong grips of good ground. Though faith seem to
yield, yet it faileth not, and even when it is at the weakest, it is uttering
itself in some act, as a wrestler, for here the expression of David's infirmity
in faith, is directed to God, and his earnest prayer joined with it, I am cut
off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my
supplications. 3. --Praying faith, how weak soever, shall not be misregarded
of God; for nevertheless, saith he, thou heardest the voice of my
supplications. 4. -- There may be in a soul at one time, both grief
oppressing, and hope upholding; both darkness of trouble, and the light of
faith; both desperately doubting, and strong gripping of God's truth and
goodness; both a fainting and a fighting; a seeming yielding in the fight, and
yet a striving of faith against all opposition; both a foolish haste, and a
settled staidness of faith; as here, I said in my haste, etc. David
Verse 22. David vents his astonishment at the Lord's
condescension in hearing his prayer. How do we wonder at the goodness of a petty
man in granting our desires! How much more should we at the humility and
goodness of the most sovereign Majesty of heaven and earth! Stephen
Verse 23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints. The holy
psalmist in the words does, with all the warmth of an affectionate zeal, incite
us to the love of God, which is the incomparably noblest passion of a reasonable
mind, its brightest glory and most exquisite felicity; and it is, as appears
evident from the nature of the thing, and the whole train of divine revelation,
the comprehensive sum of that duty which we owe to our Maker, and the very soul
which animates a religious life, that we "love the Lord with all our heart, and
strength, and mind." William Dunlap. A.M., 1692-1720.
Verse 23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints, etc. Some few
words are to be attended in the clearing of the sense. Saints here in the
text is or may be read, ye that feel mercies. "Faithful, " the
word is sometimes taken for persons, sometimes things; and so the
Lord is said to preserve true men, and truths, faithful men, and faithfulnesses.
He plenteously rewardeth the proud doer; or, the Lord rewardeth
plenteously; the Lord, who doth wonderful things. Plenteously is
either in cumulum, abunde, or in nepotes, as some would have it;
but I would rather commend, than go about to amend translations:
though I could wish some of my learned brethren's quarrelling hours were spent
rather upon clearing the originals, and so conveying over pure Scripture to
posterity, than in scratching others with their sharpened pens, and making
cockpits of pulpits. Hugh Peter's "Sermon preached before both Houses of
Parliament, "the Lord Mayor and Aldermen of the City of London, and the Assembly
of Divines, at the last Thanksgiving Day, April 2. For the recovering of the
West, and disbanding of 5,000 of the King's Horse, etc., 1645.
Verse 23. And plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. The next
query is, how God rewardeth the proud doer? in which, though the Lord's
proceedings be diverse, and many times his paths in the clouds, and his
judgments in the deep, and the uttermost farthing shall be paid the proud doer
at the great day; yet so much of his mind he hath left unto us, that even in
this life he gives out something to the proud which he calls "the day of
recompense, "which he commonly manifests in these particulars:
1. By way of
retaliation --for Adonibezek that would be cutting off thumbs, had
his thumbs cut off. Jud 1:7. So the poor Jews that cried so loud, "Crucify him,
crucify him, "were so many of them crucified, that if you believe Josephus,
there was not wood enough to make crosses, nor in the usual place room enough to
set up the crosses when they were made. Snares are made and pits are digged by
the proud for themselves commonly, to which the Scripture throughout
gives abundant testimony.
2. By shameful disappointments, seldom reaping
what they sow, nor eating what they catch in hunting, which is most clear in the
Jewish State when Christ was amongst them. Judas betrays him to get
money, and hardly lived long enough to spend it. Pilate, to please
Caesar, withstands all counsels against it, and gives way to that murder, by
which he ruined both himself and Caesar. The Jewish priests, to maintain that
domination and honour (which they thought the son of Joseph and Mary stole from
them) cried loud for his death, which proved a sepulchre to them and their
glory. And the poor people that crucified him (through fear of the Romans
taking their city) by his death had their gates opened to the Romans
--yea, Caesar himself, fearing a great change in his government by Christ
living near him (which today sets all the king craft in the world to work) met
such a change that shortly he had neither crown nor sceptre to boast of, if you
read the story of Titus and Vespasian, all which dealings of God with the proud
is most elegantly set forth unto us by the psalmist. "Behold, he travaileth with
iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood. He made a
pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made." Hugh
Verse 24. Be of good courage. Christian courage may thus be
described. It is the undaunted audacity of a sanctified heart in adventuring
upon difficulties and undergoing hardships for a good cause upon the call of
God. The genus, the common nature of it is an undaunted audacity. This
animosity, as some phrase it, is common both unto men and to some brutes. The
lion is said to be the strongest among beasts, that turneth not away from any.
Pr 30:30. And there is an elegant description of the war horse in regard of
boldness. Job 39:19, etc. And this boldness that is in brutes is spoken of as a
piece of this same courage that God is pleased to give to men. Eze 3:9.
This is the Lord's promise --"As an adamant harder than flint have I made thy
forehead." The word "harder" is the same in the Hebrew that is here in my text--
fortiorem petra --the rock that is not afraid of any weather, summer or
winter, sun and showers, heat and cold, frost and snow; it blushes not, shrinks
not, it changes not its complexion, it is still the same. Such a like thing is
courage, in the common nature of it. Secondly, consider the subject, it
is the heart, the castle where courage commands and exerciseth military
discipline; (shall I so say) it's within the bosom, it is the soul of a valiant
soldier. Some conceive our English word courage to be derived from
cordis actio, the very acting of the heart. A valiant man is described
2Sa 17:10 for to be a man whose heart is as the heart of a lion. And sometimes
the original translated courageous, as Am 2:16, may most properly be
rendered a man of heart. Beloved, valour doth not consist in a piercing
eye, in a terrible look, in big words; but it consists in the mettle, the vigour
that is within the bosom. Sometimes a coward may dwell at the sign of a roaring
voice and of a stern countenance; whereas true fortitude may be found within his
breast whose outward deportment promises little or nothing in that kind.
Thirdly, note the qualification of this same subject; I said a sanctified heart;
for I am not now speaking of fortitude as a moral virtue, whereof heathens that
have not God are capable, and for which many among them that are not Christians,
have been worthily commended. But I am now discoursing of courage as a virtue
theological, as a gracious qualification, put upon the people of God by special
covenant. And there are three things that do characterize it, and which do
distinguish it from the moral virtue of fortitude. (1) The root, whence
it ariseth; (2) the rule, whereby it is directed; (3) the end, to
which it is referred. The root, whence it ariseth, is love to God:
all the saints of God that love the Lord be of good courage. The love of Christ
constraineth me to make these bold and brave adventures, saith the apostle. 2Co
5:14. The rule, whereby it is directed, is the word of God --what
the Lord hath pleased to leave on record for a Christian's guidance in holy
pages. 1Ch 22:12-13. "Only the Lord give thee wisdom and understanding, and give
thee charge concerning Israel, that thou mayest keep the law of the Lord thy
God. Then shalt thou prosper, if thou takest heed to fulfil the statutes and
judgments which the Lord charged Moses with concerning Israel: be strong, and of
good courage; dread not, nor be dismayed." Be a man of mettle, but let thy
mettle be according to my mind, according to this rule. And the end, to
which it refers, is God. For every sanctified man being a self denying
and a God advancing man, his God is his centre, wherein his actings, his
undertakings rest; and his soul is not, yea, it cannot be satisfied but in God.
Simeon Ash's "Sermon preached before the Commanders of the Military
Forces of the renowned Citie of London, 1642."
Verse 24. Be of good courage. Shall I hint some of the
weighty services that are charged upon all our consciences? The work of
mortification, to pick out our eyes, to chop off our hands, to cut off our feet;
do you think that a milksop, a man that is not a man of a stout spirit, will do
this? Now to massacre fleshly lusts, is (as it were) for a man to mangle and
dismember his own body; it is a work painful and grievous, as for a man to cut
off his own feet, to chop off his own hands, and to pick out his own eyes, as
Christ and the apostle Paul do express it. Besides this, there are in
Christian's bosoms strongholds to be battered, fortifications to be demolished;
there are high hills and mountains that must be levelled with the ground; there
are trenches to be made, valleys to be filled. O beloved, I may not mention the
hills that lie before us in heaven way, which we must climb up, and craggy rocks
that we must get over; and without courage certainly the work put upon our hands
will not be discharged. There are also the walls of Jerusalem to be repaired,
and the temple to be edified again. If Nehemiah had not been a man of a brave
spirit he would never have gone through stitch with that church work, those
weighty services which he did undertake. How this is applicable to us for the
present time, the time of our begun reformation, I speak not, but rather do
refer it to your considerations. I beseech you to read Ne 4:17-18, "They which
builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every
one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a
weapon. For the builders, every one had his sword girded by his side, and so
builded, and he that sounded the trumpet was by me." While they were at work,
they were all ready for war. Simeon Ash.
Verse 24. And he shall strengthen your heart. Put thou
thyself forth in a way of bold adventure for him, and his providence shall be
sweetly exercised for thy good. A worthy commander, how careful he is of a brave
blade, a man that will fight at a cannon's mouth! Doth he hear from him that a
bone is broken? Send for the bone setter. Is he like to bleed to death? Call for
the surgeon; let him post away to prevent that peril. Doth he grow weaker and
weaker? Is there anything in the camp that may restore his spirit? withhold
nothing; nothing is too good, too costly; would he eat gold he should have it.
Thus it is with God. Oh, what letters of commendation doth he give in
manifestation of his own love to them in Pergamos upon this very ground. "Thou,
saith the Lord, thou hast held forth my name, and not denied it, even in those
days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where
Satan dwelleth!" thou didst fight for Christ in the cave where the devil
commanded; thou didst stand and appear for him when other men did lose heart and
courage. Here is a man that God will own; such a one shall have God's heart and
hand to do him honour, to yield him comfort. And therefore I appeal to your
consciences, is not this courage worth the having? worth the seeking? Simeon
HINTS TO THE VILLAGE PREACHER
Verse 1. Faith expressed, confusion deprecated, deliverance
Verse 1. (first clause). Open avowal of faith.
1. Duties which precede it, self examination, etc.
2. Modes of making the confession.
3. Conduct incumbent on those who have made the profession.
Verse 1. (last clause). How far the righteousness of
God is involved in the salvation of a believer.
Verse 2. (first clause). God's hearing prayer a great
Verse 2 (second clause). How far we may be urgent
with God as to time.
Verses 2-3 (last and first clauses). That which we
have we may yet seek for.
Verses 2-3. (last and first clauses). That which we
have we may yet seek for.
Verse 3. Work out the metaphor of God as a rocky fastness of
Verse 3. (last clause).
1. A blessing needed, lead me.
2. A blessing obtainable.
3. An argument for its being granted, for thy name's
Verse 4. The rescue of the ensnared.
1. The fowlers.
2. The laying of the net.
3. The capture of the bird.
4. The cry of the captive.
5. The rescue.
Verse 4. (last clause). The weak one girt with
1. Dying, in a saint's account, is a difficult work.
2. The children of God, when considering themselves as dying,
are chiefly concerned for their departing immortal spirits.
3. Such having chosen God for their God, have abundant
encouragement when dying, to commit their departing spirits into his hand, with
hopes of their being safe and happy for ever with him. --Daniel Wilcox.
Verse 5. The believer's requiem. Redemption the foundation
of our repose in God.
1. What we do--commit ourselves to God.
2. What God has done--redeemed us.
Verse 6. Holy detestation, as a virtue discriminated from
bigotry: or, the good hater.
1. An endearing attribute rejoiced in.
2. An interesting experience related.
3. A directly personal favour from God delighted in.
Verse 7. (centre clause). Consider the
measure, the effects, the time, the tempering, the ending, and the recompense.
Verse 7. (last clause). The Lord's familiarity with
Verse 8. Christian liberty, a theme for gladness.
Verse 9. The mourner's lament.
Verse 9. (last clause). Excessive sorrow, its
injurious effects on the body, the understanding, and the spiritual nature. Sin
of it, cure of it.
Verses 9-10. The sick man's moan, a reminder to those who
enjoy good health.
Verses 9-10. The sick man's moan, a reminder to those who
enjoy good health.
Verse 10. My strength faileth because of mine iniquity. The
weakening influence of sin.
Verse 11.. The good man evil spoken of.
Forgot as those who in the grave abide,
And as a broken vessel past repair,
Slandered by many, fear on every side.
Who counsel take and would my life ensnare.
But, Lord, my hopes on thee are fixed: I said,
Thou art my God, my days are in thy hand;
Against my furious foes oppose thy aid,
And those who persecute my soul withstand.
Verse 12. The world's treatment of its best friends.
Verse 14. Faith peculiarly glorious in season of great
Verse 15. The believer the peculiar care of providence.
Verse 15. (first clause).
1. The character of the earthly experience of the saints, "My
times, "that is, the changes I shall pass through, etc.
2. The advantage of this variety.
(a) Changes reveal the various aspects of the Christian
(b) Changes strengthen the Christian character.
(c) Changes lead us to admire an unchanging God.
3. Comfort for all seasons.
(a) This implies the changes of life are subject to the divine
(b) That God will support his people under them.
(c) And, consequently, they shall result in our being abundantly
4. The deportment which should characterise us. Courageous
devotion to God in times of persecution; resignation and contentment in times of
poverty and suffering; zeal and hope in times of labour. --From Stems and Twigs, or Sermon Framework.
Verse 16. A sense of divine favour.
1. Its value.
2. How to lose it.
3. How to obtain a renewal of it.
4. How to retain it.
The heavenly servant's best reward.
Verse 16. (last clause). A prayer for saints in all
stages. Note its object, save me; and its plea, Thy mercies' sake.
Suitable to the penitent, the sick, the doubting, the tried, the advanced
believer, the dying saint.
Verse 17. The shame and silence of the wicked in eternity. The silence of the grave, its grave eloquence.
Verse 19. See "Spurgeon's Sermons," No. 773." David's Holy
Wonder at the Lord's Great Goodness."
Verse 20. The believer preserved from the sneers of
arrogance by a sense of the divine presence, and kept from the bitterness of
slander by the glory of the King whom he serves.
Verse 21. Marvellous kindness. Marvellous that it should
come to me in such a way, at such a time, in such a measure, for so long.
Verse 21. Memorable events in life to be observed, recorded,
meditated on, repeated, made the subject of gratitude, and the ground of
Verse 22. Unbelief confessed and faithfulness adored. The mischief of hasty speeches.
Verse 23. An exhortation to love the Lord.
1. The matter of it, love the Lord.
2. To whom addressed, all ye his saints.
3. By whom spoken.
4. With what arguments supported, for the Lord
Verse 24. Holy courage. Its excellences, difficulties,
encouragements, and triumphs.